Some people bleed Western purple when they talk about their alma mater. For Dawson Winchester, he simply rolls up his sleeve.
A 2001 Film Studies graduate, Winchester choose to permanently display his passion for Western prior to a 2006 alumni event in St. Thomas with a tattoo. By the way, he was 76 at the time.
“I thought about it quite a lot before I did it. As you know, the idea is if you get a tattoo it’s not going to be removed,” laughed Winchester, who had other tattoos at the time – two cap badges from the First World War (his father’s and his great uncle’s). “I finally decided to do it because I graduated, and I was quite proud of that.”
So he ventured to a tattoo parlour in London with plans of having ‘UWO’ tattooed. But on the way over, he thought, “Why would I do that, they don’t call this place UWO. It’s Western. When they say ‘Where do you go?’, you don’t say UWO, you say Western.”
So Winchester had the familiar University College tower and Western name – or Tower Logo –tattooed on his right forearm for all to see.
With today’s news of the university unveiling it new brand and identity, complete with a revised main logo, Western News thought to seek out the opinion of likely the only Western graduate to ink his university pride.
Explaining how the new look is a way for Western to project a more unified brand, as well as better position the university on the global stage, Winchester took a moment of thoughtful silence and announced his verdict.
“I can see their point and understand why they’re doing it, and that’s fine. I have no problem with this look. But I’m still fond of this because it has the historic building in it,” said the 82-year-old, rubbing his tattoo. “But this (new logo) says Western to me as well. You know, things change, things evolve and whatever they do, there’s a reason behind it.
“But I have a feeling this building (UC) isn’t going anywhere soon. I like this (tattoo), but that’s just a personal preference.”
Plus, Winchester isn’t sure how the new look would work as a tattoo.
“This new one would be hard to tattoo because of all this small stuff – the symbols, date, maple leaf – there’s a lot there. So if you put that on, it wouldn’t work well as a tattoo.”
New look or not, Winchester thinks back fondly on his time at Western. It wasn’t until his retirement, following 46 years in the sales and management side of the newspaper business, that he decided to hit the halls of post-secondary schooling.
With the stumbling block of not graduating high school, he wasn’t even sure he would be allowed. But after talking to a university administrator and sharing his story, Winchester was welcomed to Western, and he is thankful he was given the opportunity.
“It took me nine years to get my degree, and that was basically because I wasn’t in any hurry and I was enjoying myself too much,” he said. “I took a couple courses each year and was really enjoying it. For me, it was more ‘could I have done this?’ I thought the worst thing that could happen to me was that if I failed and can’t pass, so I studied hard.
Winchester’s son, John, also graduated from Western (BA’84). While he doesn’t share the ‘tattooed love’ his father does, the pair still make a point of heading to campus each year for Homecoming.
So will Winchester be coming back any time soon to start up another degree? It did cross his mind.
“I thought about it,” he said. “When I graduated I thought surely I’d take some more courses, but I changed my mind. I accomplished what I set out to do.